Should Bible colleges have women serve as chapel speakers?

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Larry Nelson's picture

 

Regardless of what anyone here thinks of the content of Dan Patz's blog post, can we all agree that he writes with a style of grace & transparency that is refreshing (and is all too often lacking in similar communications)?

Ron Bean's picture

The Bible prohibits women having authority over and teaching men (although we make exceptions for certain academic subjects). The Bible says nothing about women chapel speakers.

The NIU bashers will enthusiastically accept this as another sign that NIU is heading toward destruction. Meanwhile, Dan Patz's reasonable response places him on the high road.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Pastor Doug's picture

This is NIU's information about chapel from their Student Life link:  http://www.ni.edu/campus-life/chapel/

Four mornings each week, the entire student body gathers to worship the Lord and to focus on the truths of His Word. Chapel is central to the Northland experience and encourages students to refocus on eternity in the midst of the distractions of life and the busyness of academia. Chapel provides a great supplement to the core Bible classes as students apply passages practically to their lives and hearts. Chapel is also a great time of praising God through music, focusing minds and hearts on eternal matters rather than the things of this world. These services encourage students to run the race that God has given them, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,” and to praise Him who “is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). Archives of chapel sermons can be accessed via Northland’s Sermon Audio page.

In addition to preaching from Northland’s own Bible faculty, chapel services often feature sermons from a variety of guest speakers, including missionaries from all around the world. These visiting preachers impart knowledge from their years of ministry experience across America and on foreign fields and encourage students to join them in going “into all the world” with the Gospel. Each Thursday, Northland’s Student Council members lead chapel, with activities ranging from lighthearted skits and games to uplifting times of praise songs, student testimonies, and fervent prayer.

 

NIU makes it clear that the chapel time is a preaching and worship service.  Anytime the Bible is opened, whether in a church, chapel service, conference, etc. there is an inherent authority due to the fact that it is God's Word.

Thoughts change with ease, deeds hardly are undone;

Be those well weighed, ere these are once begun.

Heard on one side, scarce any suit hath flaws,

A hasty judgment long repentance draws.

- Anonymous

Ron Bean's picture

Do women ever "minister the Word in song" in your churches? Just wondering. I was in a church where the "silent women" practice morphed from women being allowed to sing solos but not to speak before they sang to the consideration of prohibiting them from singing solos all together.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

paynen's picture

I do not believe singing or playing music is authoritative. I would say the same about Scripture reading or praying. Although a question does arise if the writing of music text in use of Worship is authoritative. I have not thought through that yet myself, but if it is authoritative that raises some interesting questions.

Ian Columba's picture

Here's where I think 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 applies.  Although the finer points of the passage may be debatable, the point is clear.  Whenever a woman finds herself in a position that could be construed as teaching or exerting authority among a group of believers, she is to be very careful to indicate submission to authority.  In the case of the Corinthians, that was accomplished by a veil, which directs attention away from her and symbolizes submission.

Veiling does not communicate the same way in our culture (let alone hats or skull-caps)  - we don't really have an equivalent. Therefore, women in our churches must be even more cautious in how they present themselves and in what situations they do so. A woman singing a solo, for instance is not necessarily wrong, but must be done in such a way that it is not drawing attention to self.  How many times have you been distracted by the manner in which a woman "performs"?  Maybe I'm just super-sensitive, but I find the toss of the head or strutting on the platform to be repelling.

In my opinion, the manner of communication is where the chapel message at Northland went wrong.  It wasn't necessarily wrong to have a woman speak (very carefully).  However, it seems that the manner of her speaking crossed the line into authoritative communication (as Daniel Patz acknowledges). 

Empathetic Apologist

iancolumba.com

Jay's picture

Pastor Doug wrote:
This is NIU's information about chapel from their Student Life link:  http://www.ni.edu/campus-life/chapel/

Four mornings each week, the entire student body gathers to worship the Lord and to focus on the truths of His Word. Chapel is central to the Northland experience and encourages students to refocus on eternity in the midst of the distractions of life and the busyness of academia. Chapel provides a great supplement to the core Bible classes as students apply passages practically to their lives and hearts. Chapel is also a great time of praising God through music, focusing minds and hearts on eternal matters rather than the things of this world. These services encourage students to run the race that God has given them, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,” and to praise Him who “is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). Archives of chapel sermons can be accessed via Northland’s SermonAudio page.

In addition to preaching from Northland’s own Bible faculty, chapel services often feature sermons from a variety of guest speakers (emphasis added - Jay), including missionaries from all around the world. These visiting preachers impart knowledge from their years of ministry experience across America and on foreign fields and encourage students to join them in going “into all the world” with the Gospel. Each Thursday, Northland’s Student Council members lead chapel, with activities ranging from lighthearted skits and games to uplifting times of praise songs, student testimonies, and fervent prayer.

NIU makes it clear that the chapel time is a preaching and worship service.  Anytime the Bible is opened, whether in a church, chapel service, conference, etc. there is an inherent authority due to the fact that it is God's Word.

I'd be curious to see the last time that webpage was updated.  IIRC, when I was at NIU (in the late 90's), Chapel was not always treated as a church or worship service (certainly nothing like BJU treats their chapel, which definitely does have a church type atmosphere), although 99% of the time it was.  We also had very 'un-worship' type chapels where they were definitely treated more as a student convocation (as Dan Patz acknowledges in his blog post) than they were 'church'.  Since Patz's statement is from yesterday, I'm inclined to give him the preference over a website that may be several months old, especially since he's the President of the school.  

Just as an FYI - Faith Pembine has an auxiliary service on Sunday and Wednesday nights that ~IS~ (although I should say was, since it may has changed since then) expressly identified as a 'church service'.  It was run as an extension of Faith Pembine, not as NIU's own church.  It was lead by a Deacon of Faith Pembine who received significant input and help from NIU since not all students could make it off campus (especially for students in one or two week block / intensive classes).

Personally, I think this says a lot more about how many are anxious (or maybe even eager) to attack NIU than it really is about anything else.  That being said, NIU should have been aware of how it looked about 30 seconds after chapel concluded...a point Dan mentions in his blogpost, and I'm glad they put something out to address the controversy so quickly.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

DavidO's picture

What I think is most vividly highlighted in this discussion is the question of whether worship services may properly be conducted outside the local church at all.

As Jim sort of hinted.

BobPatterson's picture

...should anyone refer to the ministry aspect of their lives as the "sexy" part of what they do.  Is this language that is appropriate in the pulpit, whether it be in a church OR in a Christian college chapel service, by a man OR a woman?  (it's at the 3:20 mark of the audio)

Jim Welch's picture

I enjoy discussions like this that are going on here at SI.  Thanks for the forum of ideas.

The question of this forum is "Should Bible colleges have women serve as chapel speakers?"  My answer, after contemplating what I have read in the New Testament and from what I have read in this forum is a resounding, "YES!"  

Bible colleges/university's are not local churches.  Let each local church decide its platform policy based upon their understanding of the New Testament's teaching.  Some may have single lady missionaries others will not, some will allow women to give testimonies or sing specials others will not.  No problem.  Each church is autonomus.

Bible colleges are not local churches.  If we are to say that women are never to teach men, what do we do with Aquila and Priscilla instructed Apollos.  God does not rebuke Priscilla.  Philips 4 virgin daughters were prophesying in Acts 21.  Again, Paul does not rebuke them.

Christians are both male and female.  Female believers have important contributions to make to the Body of Christ.  I was encouraged to faithfulness in listening to a lady missionary to the Philippines who was a survivor of a Japanese prisoner of war camp during WWII.  (I believe here name was Darlene Rose).  I am not charismatic; but Corrie Ten Boom's testimonies have increased my faith.  I have never been called of God to suffer for Him like Gracia Burnham (I probably slaughtered her name; but I have been enriched by her faith) was in the Philippines.  Elizabeth Elliott's radio ministry helped me grow in Christ (she is one of my favorite radio 'preachers')

My point, without giving up God given roles for men or women, without even leaning towards a woman pastoral role, I believe that believers can be and will be enriched in their faith, their walk, their worship by godly women.

May God give leaders wisdom in when, where, and how to use godly women for His glory and our good.

 

paynen's picture

1 Timothy 2 talks about the preaching and teaching ministry relating to the Word of God, not the pastoral ministry. Women are forbidden from teaching men about the Bible and preaching anywhere.

Ron Bean's picture

I agree that women are not to be pastors, elders, or have authority over men in the church. However I took some time to compare her "speech" to some of the sermons of her critics and her "speech" was better than their sermons. (BIG SMILE WITH WINK!)

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Jim Welch's picture

I am not ignoring I Tim. 2.  I take it very seriously within the local church context.

Jay's picture

The question of this forum is "Should Bible colleges have women serve as chapel speakers?"  My answer, after contemplating what I have read in the New Testament and from what I have read in this forum is a resounding, "YES!"  

My answer is a resounding NO! Biggrin

Whether you like it or not, a chapel setting - and I don't think that "college chapel" equals "church" - is inherently a position of spiritual influence. Having a woman to guest speak in chapel would run perilously close to a violation of 1 Tim. 2:12-14 in my eyes.  Ephesians 5 makes is clear that the men, not the women, are the spiritual and overall leaders in the home.  Adam, not Eve, was confronted first on their sins as the person ultimately responsible (Genesis 2:18-3:9).  I would have a difficult time ever putting a woman on the platform in an explicit chapel setting the spiritual "OK". That would, of course, exclude student convocations or classrooms.  Where NIU ran into issues was having a student convocation in the same environment that they have chapel, but the school doesn't really have any other way to do things.

That being said, Dan Patz says that they explicitly called this a "student convocation", not "student chapel", and said that the parameters were made clear beforehand to the speaker, the staff, and the student body.  He also said that he and the speaker explicitly agreed that there was to be no preaching, and I have no reason to believe that he'd lie.  So while I was made uncomfortable by it - to the point where I contacted the school to find out what was going on - and I would disagree with it personally (although I don't know how I would have handled it differently aside from making sure the disclaimer got embedded in the video), I think that they tried to handle this the right way, and I certainly believe that Daniel Patz walked out of NIU's convocation that morning more than a little surprised at how it went.  I also think that he probably heard from some of the Bible faculty as well, but I have no evidence that that actually occurred. Wink

I am writing this off as an unfortunate and unforced error by the school.  Daniel Patz says things will be handled differently in the future, so I'll take his word and move forward.  I don't think that anyone needs to be fired or disciplined or that NIU should lose any donors or support over it, although I can certainly understand why people would be shocked and surprised if all they did was look at the video.  I appreciate the fast response from the school, the apology by Dan Patz (Don's criticisms aside), and the attitude that has been displayed by them, and am sure that things will be handled better in the future.  That's all I can really ask for at this point.

I also will admit that I wish I was as passionate - or as passionate in appearance - about Jesus as she clearly is.  You can tell she loves Jesus. Biggrin

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

mmartin's picture

Jay,

Good post!  I think I'll go with your comment that this was an unfortunate and unforced error by the school.

I think you can have true Biblical preaching in a non-church setting.  What about say, NIU's men's heart conference?  A men's retreat?  BJU's bible conference?

Would we have a woman open up the bible and . . . . . "give a testimony" at men's retreat - at BJU's bible conference?

We can call a setting a convocation, a gathering, or whatever, and the speaking a testimony, a speech.  But at the end of the day I feel when you gather together in a group to pray, to sing unto the Lord, and to hear someone open the Bible and speak from it, about it, and from it tell us how we should live/think - that is a worship service and the speaking part is preaching.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Going back to the biblical principles at stake, the question is really not whether a non-church gathering is a worship service or whether there is ministry of the Word present. The question is whether the NT prohibitions in the pastorals are meant to govern church life in particular or Christian life in general or both. Given the contexts of these epistles, we're not really approaching this question from neutral ground either (they are called "pastoral" for a reason).

(To focus the question a little more, do the passages in question forbid women in general from having "spiritual influence" over men in general or do they instruct women not to engage in authoritative teaching in the ministry of the church? I'm happy to say that lots of women have been a spiritual influence in my life and I don't think were disobedient in doing so.)

Someone may have already posted this observation, but KBauder's most recent Nick is helpful in this regard. If we don't have a link to it in Filings yet, it'll be there soon. But understanding how teaching authority works in the church is foundational to how to understanding teaching ministries that operate outside the auspices of a particular church.

But in addition to the exegetical questions--the meanings of the relevant texts--there are practical considerations, too. One such consideration: in my experience, talented and insightful Bible teachers among women are not in very short supply relative to what we find among men. So though the speaking role may seem, to some, to be unfairly/unbiblically male-dominated, the church--in the broad sense--needs all the help it can get raising up and training able expositors of the Scriptures. If I were running a school, that alone would be reason enough for me to use male speakers, with very few exceptions.

Other practical considerations come to mind as well... another post maybe. 

mmartin's picture

At just past the 29' mark she makes a comment about Northland being open next year and how it could affect the students and their parents.

She says about student's parents, "And their biggest concern with what if Northland doesn't stay open next year is, Oh, what am I going to do with my son or if my daughter have to move back home . . . ."

Interesting comment coming from a board member.

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